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The 2018 Festival of Whales takes place in Canada’s Bay of Fundy, where the world’s biggest tides create a phenomenon that attracts rich cetacean life – most notably the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Naturalist Mark Carwardine – who knows the area, has accompanied previous Festivals of Whales, and will co-lead this trip – wrote the following which sums up the experiences we hope to have…

“If you want to see critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, the Bay of Fundy is the place to go. And the best way to spend maximum time with them is to charter your own boat. So that’s exactly what we are going to do! I can’t wait."

Wildlife Worldwide founder Chris Breen, who will also be joining the trip, said on his return from a reconnaissance trip the two of them made together in late 2016:

“This is a really fabulous place: the North Atlantic right whales are incredible, as are the Atlantic white-sided dolphins, humpbacks, minkes and large numbers of seabirds. Our accommodation positively oozes with character, and this really has to be one of the most wonderful parts of Canada.”

Typical itinerary

  1. Day 1: Fly to St John, New Brunswick

    Daytime flight to St John, New Brunswick, where we transfer by coach to St Andrews by-the-Sea and our overnight accommodation.

    Accommodation: The Algonquin Resort, 1-night

  2. Day 2: Transfer to Campobello Island

    After breakfast, we take a water taxi shuttle from St Andrews Wharf, just a 10-minute stroll from the hotel, for the 30-minute high-speed trip across the channel to Campobello Island, and disembark at Roosevelt Campobello International Park jetty.  After check-in and lunch, we depart on our first whale-watching excursion for an introduction to the Bay of Fundy. 

    Our home for the rest of the trip is the historic former summer home and estate of US President Franklin D Roosevelt, stuated outside Welshpool on the west coast of Campobello Island, which now operates as a conference centre with its own accommodation. 

    Accommodation: 5 nights Roosevelt International Centre

  3. Days 3-7 : Daily whale-watching excursions from Campobello Island

    Each morning we board our chartered vessel and (weather permitting) head out into the Bay of Fundy. Most trips last around three hours, although we may on occasion take a picnic lunch and remain at sea all day. Although there is no guarantee of sightings, these trips allow us to get close to whales without disturbing them. 

    Among the cetaceans we commonly see are harbour porpoises, minke and humpback whales and the rare North Atlantic right whale – arguably the most endangered large mammal on earth.  These wonderful creatures come to feed their young in the bay, where there is also a chance of seeing huge 10-metre basking sharks. Wherever there are whales, there are generally seabirds  – attracted by the same food. Flocks of great and sooty shearwaters, plus Wilson’s and Leach’s petrels can be impressive, while Arctic and pomarine skuas, great northern divers, black guillemots, puffins and razorbills are also seen.

    Our guides will explain the life cycle and behaviour of the North Atlantic right whale and the other cetaceans we encounter On at least one day we will be accompanied by Canadian marine biologist Dr Moira (Moe) Brown – one of the world’s foremost experts in the North Atlantic right whale – who lives locally.

    On return, there may be time to relax for a while before lunch: we can go for a walk on the estate, beachcomb and explore tidal pools, do some photography or birdwatching. After lunch, there may be time for a short siesta or a chance to read or relax before we set off on our second whale watching trip of the day.

    In the late afternoon there is still plenty of time to wander the beach, watch whales from the shore, browse the library, relax, or simply enjoy the peace and quiet. There is no hectic schedule – we take things at our own pace. Each evening there will be an after-dinner full illustrated talk or presentation from Mark Carwardine, Dr Moe Brown and others.

  4. Day 8: Transfer back to St John via St Andrew-by-the-Sea & depart

    After an early lunch, shuttle by water taxi from St Andrews Wharf, and transfer back to St John, New Brunswick to check in for overnight flight connections back to the UK.

  5. Day 9: Arrive UK

You should note: Mark’s latest book - Mark Carwardine's Guide to Whale Watching in North America - will be published in autumn 2017.

Key info

  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 9 days from £5,295 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 8 days from £3,705 pp
  • Single supplement: From £695
  • Group size: 18
  • Departures:
  • Included in the price/package:
    • 1 night hotel in St Andrews-by-the-Sea (bed and breakfast)
    • 5 nights Roosevelt International Centre (full board)
    • Transfers and transport
    • Daily whale-watching excursions aboard a private chartered vessel
    • Services of UK leaders
    • Services of local naturalist guides on boat trips
    • Evening talks & slideshows
    • Conservation Fund contribution
  • Activities available:
    • Boat trip
    • Photography

Expert leaders

Mark Carwardine

Photo of Mark Carwardine

Mark is an award-winning writer, magazine columnist, widely published photographer, consultant, broadcaster and lecturer.

With Stephen Fry he co-presented Last Chance to See, a BBC TV series about endangered species which was broadcast in autumn 2009. He also presented the weekly half-hour programme, Nature, on BBC Radio 4 for many years.

Mark has written more than 50 books – including the best-selling field guide to whales, dolphins and porpoises ever published. He has also penned monthly columns in BBC Wildlife and Wanderlust magazines for many years. Mark has an extensive collection of wildlife, nature and environment photographs taken on all seven continents and in more than a hundred countries – which are sold around the world. And for many years Mark was the Chairman of the Judging Panel for the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition.

Chris Breen

Photo of Chris Breen

Chris studied Geographical Sciences in Plymouth, however his first encounter with the wider world was in 1983, when he headed off to Zambia.

Under the tutelage of the late Norman Carr, the pioneer of walking safaris, he worked as a wildlife guide and managed a wilderness camp. On his return to the UK, he had a spell at a major tour operator before setting up Wildlife Worldwide in 1992.

Since then he has travelled the world in search of first-class wildlife experiences. He devised the Festival of Wildlife concept, which has spawned the Festival of Bears and the Festival of Whales that now both operate on an annual basis. An ardent conservationist, Chris has co-led each of these since their inception. He dedicates several weeks each year to communicating his irrepressible passion for nature to those who travel with him.  

Featured location:

Bay of Fundy

One of the marine wonders of the world, the Bay of Fundy boasts the world’s highest tides, a distinctly scenic coastline, and one of the North Atlantic’s highest concentrations of whales and seabirds. Humpback, minke, and the rare North Atlantic right whale are amongst the species to be seen here.

  • Where: New Brunswick
  • Ideal for viewing: humpback whale, harbour porpoise, bald eagle, fin whale, North Atlantic right whale
  • Excellent for: Mark Carwardine wildlife holidays, Whale watching
Featured accommodation:

The Algonquin

Located in St Andrews-by-the-Sea, with views of the Bay of Fundy, the legendary Algonquin is one of Canada’s most luxurious resorts. Rich in history, meticulously restored to its original splendour, the iconic building and its grounds are an oasis of peace, combining contemporary amenities with every modern comfort.